Hendon bounced back from the despair of the FA Trophy defeat against Biggleswade Town on Saturday to inflict a comprehensive 5-1 drubbing on a Staines Town team coming off its third win of the season at the weekend. The highlight of the victory at Silver Jubilee Park on Tuesday night was a hat-trick of excellent finishes by Shaquille Hippolyte-Patrick, the first a mazy 30 yard run and shot, and the other two spectacular overhead kicks.
Romario Jonas, Gianni Crichlow and Shaun Lucien were brought into the Greens starting eleven, with Luke Tingey and Cole Brown dropping to the bench and Ricardo German missing out altogether with injury. Staines' problems were more severe because neither Joe McEvoy nor Harry Agombar arrived in time to start (they were allowed to be substitutes), so Andre Adetola and Davis Cofie started the game.
Just how much the two teams have changed in the past half year can be seen by comparing the squads with the ones which appeared in the Middlesex Senior Cup Final at Uxbridge in April. The only Hendon player involved was Tingey, an unsued sub at SJP; while Staines' former midfielder Bayley Brown carried out the same duties in the green and white.
The first half was, in truth rather mundane as Staines were ultra defensive and Hendon rather lacked the inspiration to break them down. In the fifth minute, Connor Calcutt forced a good save from Louis Dixon and two or three good chances had flashed across the face of the goal without a Greens player getting a decisive touch.
Defensively, none of the Greens' rearguard, Howard Hall, Lee Chappell, Jonas and Adam Pepera was unduly troubled, assisted by the calm presence of Sean Bonnett-Johnson in front on them, while Danny Boness was certainly under-employed between the sticks.
Midway through the half, however, the Greens turned the pressure into something tangible. The Greens raided down the left to good effect with George Pilbeam being beaten with ease. When a low cross came in, Calcutt timed his run perfectly and slammed the ball into the net.
Hendon were very comfortable with the lead, but a second goal would not come so they took oranges with only the narrowest of leads. Before the second half started, Staines made two changes, Agombar replacing Andy Ali and Gilberto Abril taking over from Lewis Lavender.
Less than two minutes after the restart, Hendon got the second goal they craved. Staines lost possession and it ended up with Crichlow who fed the ball to Calcutt who finished smartly.
This goal broke Staines' spirit and they looked like a team desperately short of confidence, while Hendon were keen to add to their advantage and started playing with a higher tempo and better purpose.
In the 53rd minute, came Hendon's third goal. A cross from Lucien caused chaos in the Staines box and when it wasn't dealt with, Hippolyte-Patrick turned, twisted and delivered a superb overhead scissors kick, sending the ball past Dixon.
McEvoy was Staines' third change, before an hour had elapsed, as he replaced Seth Owens. And the Swans really should have cut the deficit in the 61st minute when an attack down their left side was followed by a cross which Wilson Chingoka should have nudged over the line from a couple of yards out.
Somehow he missed the ball, or got the faintest of touches to knock it wide. Either way, it was a dreadful miss and it was as bad as Hendon's fourth goal, two minutes later, was good. Danny Boness released the ball to Lee Chappell, who was closed down quite quickly. He played the ball forward into space midway inside the Staines half, where Hippolyte-Patrick was first to react. He dribbled the ball forward, beating two half-hearted tackles and suddenly was just inside the penalty area.
Calcutt was perfectly placed for a pass that would have completed his hat-trick, but Hippolyte-Patrick eschewed the passing option for beating another defender and a shot which beat Dixon and rippled the net.
Hendon, comfortably in control, replaced Howard Hall with Taishan Griffith and Calcutt with Cole Brown.
Lucien then twice went close to opening his Hendon account with free-kicks. In the 69th minute, encouraged by Chappell, to go for goal, his curling effort came back off the crossbar and was just about cleared. Seven minutes later, his curling effort was headed inches wide by a defender, who probably kept out the set-piece.
Cole Brown had an effort well saved by Dixon before Hendon completed the substitutions with Sean Bonnett-Johnson going off and Mathias Bakare getting his first taste of League action.
Two minutes later, with 11 remaining, Hendon got careless and conceded a free-kick just outside the D of the penalty area. Makhosini Ryan Khanye took responsibility and his curled effort gave Boness no chance as he bent his shot just inside the post.
As good as that goal was, the Hendon response was even better. Because the ball to him was much harder to control, Hippolyte-Patrick's spectacular overhead kick - a difficult technique at the best of times for someone so tall - was even better. Any criticism of Dixon for his positioning as the ball flew past him should be tempered by the thought that successful overhead kicks are very rare and two in a game is almost unheard of.
From then on, it was just a matter of Hendon searching, in vain as it turned out, for a sixth goal. Some of the passing and running became over-elaborate, but such was Hendon's confidence, they felt anything might work.
With 26 points from 12 games, Hendon's position of fourth in the table is one that further highlights the outstanding job done by the management team, led by Jimmy Gray.
He admitted in a post-match tweet, "After 4 weeks in the job, I questioned my own sanity getting involved after so much turmoil, last nights second half performance made the hard work all worth while. You don't get too many chances to relax and enjoy your team but last night I did. Credit to the lads/staff."